The constant rise in the number of corona cases in Maharashtra may be an indicator of a ‘second wave’ likely to occur in the state by the end of August or the first week of September. State health officials and taskforce members have raised this concern, saying some districts of the state are witnessing a rise in the number of cases for the second time. However, experts see this rise as a sign of community transmission and have urged people to be more cautious and follow basic protocols.
According to the data provided by the state health department, Nashik division has reported 27,682 cases (from August 1 to 15) as compared to the 15,845 reported in the last 15 days of July. There was a similar rise in numbers for Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Latur, Akola and Nagpur in the same period. “The steep and sudden growth in the number of cases in this district is clearly alarming and a matter of concern. It calls for an aggressive strategy to curb cases in these divisions of Maharashtra,” said State Surveillance Officer Dr Pradip Awate.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Tuesday, at least six districts need to put in more efforts towards contact tracing of Covid-19 patients, to curb the spread of infection. "There is a need to improve contact tracing of Covid-19 patients in Parbhani, Nandurbar, Kolhapur, Satara, Solapur and Ahmednagar," he said.
Further, he said, the state's Covid mortality rate is 3.35 per cent, though it is higher in a clutch of districts, including Mumbai, he said. "But the mortality rate is higher than the state's average in Mumbai, Solapur, Nandurbar, Akola, Latur, Jalgaon and Ratnagiri," Tope said.
Maharashtra currently has more than six lakh cases so far.
Dr Avinash Bhondve, president of the Maharashtra chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), said some districts may be experiencing a second wave. “It is largely as per the global trend being witnessed in countries like New Zealand, Spain and because of complacency. Not only districts, the second wave may be witnessed in Mumbai if due precautions are not taken,” he said.
Meanwhile, a task force member said, considering the increase in the number of cases across the districts, it indicates the possibility of a second wave. But it is not known when this will occur as Maharashtra is yet to reach its peak number of cases. “Rising numbers cannot be ignored, as there has been some control over the cases in some parts of Maharashtra, but there are districts which have started witnessing a second wave. For instance, cases in Malegaon were controlled in June but over the past two weeks, there has been a resurgence. So we need to be more alert and take precautions,” he said.
However, a public health expert said the government did not have resources, in terms of specialised staff and health infrastructure, to deal with the situation, especially in rural areas.
“Tertiary care treatment can only prevent Covid-19 fatalities. We need specialised staff to treat critical patients. Both the state and the Central government have not been able to provide that quality of trained health staff and infrastructure in rural and semi-urban areas,” he said.
However, health experts said while the state would continue to see a higher number of cases as testing too had increased, the downward trend of the Covid-19 infection curve would begin by September-end.